Response to Inaccurate Information Recently Posted about OLPC

One Laptop Per Child Association Inc. (“OLPC”) wishes to respond to a recent post in OLPC News that contained several assertions that are contextually inaccurate and may lead to conclusions that are incorrect.

With the recent development of the XO-4 Touch laptop,the XOTablet and its educational “Dreams” User Interface, necessary adjustments in the composition of the OLPC team were required. First, several of the engineers and programmers who specialized in hardware design departed OLPC as their services were no longer required. John Watlington our CTO, remains in charge of finalizing the XO‐4‐Touch laptop. He is also preparing the ground for the next hardware launch. The OLPC Technical team continues to focus on software development, incorporating Sugar into the Android OS, and developing unique apps for the tablet and laptop environment. This team, under the leadership of Andrew McMillan, includes Samuel Greenfeld and a team of developers at Morphoss Ltd., including Heather Buchanan, Chris Noldus, Alexander Nikitin, Samantha Qiao and Tim Evetts.

The OLPC Learning team is under the direction of Doctor Antonio Battro, a colleague of both Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert. Dr. Battro is in charge of leading the philosophical direction of the learning team. He is a distinguished member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, an emblematic institution with more than 40 Nobel Prize recipients in its roster of 90 scientists around the globe. Claudia Urrea remains involved with specific OLPC projects. Moises Salinas Fleitman has joined the Learning group. Bob Hacker also remains committed to OLPC and its mission. Donna Mackenzie has joined OLPC as CFO.Her extensive experience in social media, crowd sourcing, finance, and M&A is of great importance to OLPC at this moment. OLPC is also blessed with the support and contributions of Michele Borba, Educator, TV commentator and consultant to many institutions in the field.

In addition, the XOTablet will be launched on July 16 exclusively at Walmart and soon afterwards at many of the top retailers in the USA, Europe, and in North and South America. With the continued development of new products and content, OLPC maintains its commitment to providing children with an innovative educational experience. OLPC is at its core a social equality movement and a transformer of the existing educational systems. The recent transitions at OLPC permit it to adapt and grow with the demands of the market while adhering to its basic principles.

OLPC is very excited about its current projects in the USA and abroad. OLPC is delivering the first batch of XO-4 Touch machines to Uruguay, in addition to a large order of XOTablets.OLPC has also begun the production of a large order for the government of Rwanda. The feedback from focus groups and educational institutions with respect to OLPC’s new devices, the XO-4 Touch and the XO Tablet, has been extremely positive.

OLPC is aware of certain animosity from top commercial entities and from some individual bloggers that see OLPC as a threat to their existence. In reality, this is something to feel proud about. It is a testament to the strength of OLPC and its mission that it is somehow seen as a threat to bigger entities around the world.OLPC believes that it is the educational equivalent to the World Food Program in its mission to feed the poor. OLPC continues to search for disruptive and creative ways to challenge old beliefs and clichés. OLPC continues to lead the way in innovation and education around the globe. On behalf of OLPC, I thank you for your continued support of our mission.

Rodrigo Arboleda

Chairman and CEO
One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc.

PDF version here.

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Part 3: “Goodies”

Power and battery life

The XO-4 features a powerful dual-core CPU running at 1GHz or 1.2GHz, 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 4/8/16GB eMMC storage (and larger in the future). It supports a new battery chemistry (NiMH).

XO-4 – HDMI output to monitor

Video output to connect XOs to monitors and projectors has been a popular request. The XO 4 includes a mini-HDMI output port that can drive HDMI devices as well as traditional VGA displays (with an adapter). All in plug-and-play style.

Older XO models still support USB-to-VGA solutions, and the team intends to expand support for DisplayLink, which is a strong industry standard for USB-to-VGA.

Good things stay the same

In the midst of all these changes, the development team is making sure that all the good things of the XO laptop remain in the XO-4 model.

The child-proof grid membrane keyboard avoids choking hazards and has won the only “Children’s product” USL certification in the industry. The power input allows charging from a wide range of power sources, including power sources that vary their voltage such as solar panels.

The team has been careful to preserve the sunlight-readable screen and long battery lifetime. The microphone input jack still supports connecting humidity and light sensors to use them for science experiments and learning programming.

The laptops still work in hotter and colder environments than others, and still work at higher altitudes too.

For established deployments, it is also important that almost all XO spare parts remain compatible. Existing and new laptops can trade parts and share parts inventory to protect the existing investment and save money. New XO-4 motherboards can be used to repair or upgrade older units at a very modest cost.

A new release of our operating system is planned for early 2013—bringing all the new software versions to existing XO laptops—so environments with a mix of earlier laptops and new XO-4 can have an integrated user experience.

When you open an XO-4, there are lots of things inside—most of them invisible, hiding in the details. Millions of engineering hours, thousands of sleepless nights from the team, making sure this is the right machine for the next generation. For the next few months, the team will still be busy in at the assembly lines, the test labs, pounding keyboards, making sure everything comes together right on time for the start of production.

by: Marting Langhoff

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Part 2: Sugar changes for Touch

The touchscreen hardware is, of course, only as good as its software support. Fortunately, the XO’s Sugar user interface is naturally well suited for touchscreen use, with large, clearly designed icons that users instinctively want to touch.

Sketch of the Sugar interface

Sketch of the Sugar interface

The changes that the team is undertaking to Sugar are simple and subtle, and designed to feel natural to both experienced Sugar users and newcomers.

Icons are moving for better spacing, they are getting enlarged and rearranged to make things work better for touch. The team is adding adding swipe-to-scroll gestures (also known as kinetic scrolling) to show the frame, pinch to zoom and touchscreen-style text selection.

Internally, Sugar has seen a major overhaul that will benefit users of all XOs and unlock modern touchscreen features. This work is intended to provide a solid foundation for the coming years of Sugar development.

The magic in these modern touches relies on heavy engineering, and to perform it OLPC has joined forces with a team from Open Source software consultancy called Lanedo to make Sugar work smoothly with multitouch.

To make the user interface ready for the XO-4’s multitouch capabilities the team has fixed and improved the graphical subsystem ( and the UI toolkit (GTK+)—enhancements include support for gestures and better control over the look-and-feel of the UI, so that icons appear just so on screen.

One of the most exciting features is the new intuitive text selector. Thanks to the newly introduced handles that allow exact positioning, selecting text on the touchscreen now feels like a natural task. The on-screen keyboard is also tightly integrated, preventing applications from taking away the keyboard’s focus when scrolling. Furthermore, several commonly known gestures like zoom, rotate and swipe have been added to the Sugar environment.

A “little” keyboard to go along with Sugar

Sometimes you need to type something in eBook mode, or want to type in a language that is different from the keyboard layout that you have. Sugar now includes an outstanding on-screen-keyboard called “Maliit” (“little” in Tagalog). Just as any other tablet, the XO-4 can be put in eBook mode and still offer the option to open a web browser and type in a URL or a search term.

The team behind Maliit—OpenIsmus—has been working with OLPC to bring this best-of-breed on-screen-keyboard to the XO laptop and to integrate it with user experience. A lot of work goes into making sure that the keyboard appears at the right time, behaves and looks the right way.

This little keyboard opens a window for people working with multiple languages and accessibility. Some multicultural regions need 3 different scripts on the key caps; but only one can be put on the actual keys. Using the on-screen-keyboard, you can type in your language in any XO-4 Touch that you get your hands on.

For users that cannot type easily, but can drive a pointer of any kind, the on-screen-keyboard is an accessibility feature that can be enabled on any XO, even those without touchscreen.

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Behind the scenes with OLPC’s next generation laptop – Part 1: Touchscreen

The next generation XO laptop is due to go into production in 2013, offering the first
touchscreen ever provided by One Laptop per Child. In this article, the OLPC development team provides a behind-the-scenes look at the new laptop, revealing what features will be entirely new, and what good things will be preserved.

Two models are in development: the XO-4 Laptop, and the XO-4 Touch, a convertible laptop with a touchscreen. The XO-4 Laptop follows the tradition of the XO-1.75, the current OLPC laptop, but upgrades the processor and memory, can handle a longer-life battery, and adds a mini-HDMI port to allow easy connection to monitors and projectors.

The XO-4 Touch is all that plus a child-friendly touchscreen that improves on the existing display, keeping sun-readability and ease-of-repair. Both models can be requested with grid membrane keyboard or mechanical keyboard, which the development team calls “chewy” and “crunchy”.

Touchscreens in the sun 

Over the last few years, the development team has spent an enormous amount of time looking at touchscreen technology. It was a serious challenge to find a solution that would work well for OLPC devices, keeping repairs simple, sun readability, drop and general child-resistance and low cost.

They found the answer in Neonode’s zForce. It is an infrared-based touch implementation that works without adding a new layer of glass in front of the existing Pixel Qi screen, keeping sun-readability intact.

This approach avoids all the costs and complications in capacitive glass touchscreens. One of the complications is reparability—capacitive touchscreens are glued and nearly impossible to replace or repair. The zForce IR touchscreen can be easily replaced and repaired. zForce is also power-efficient—Neonode has worked hard to ensure that the power consumption is so small that it does not impact battery life.

All touchscreens technologies are sensitive to dust and dirt to some degree. Neonode’s zForce technology is especially good at handling wet and sweaty fingers, which confuse other touchscreens and touchpads.

Nobody else today delivers a touchscreen that is childproof, repairable and sun-readable.